Can You Floss With a Permanent Retainer?

Can You Floss With a Permanent Retainer?

Team Oral Health, Retainer

If you opt for a permanent retainer after completing orthodontic treatment, you may wonder how you’re supposed to floss your teeth. Rest assured, you can continue to floss thoroughly, even with a permanent retainer. Read on for everything to know about flossing your teeth once you’ve had a permanent retainer placed by your orthodontist.

What is a Permanent Retainer?

A permanent retainer is an orthodontic appliance that retains the proper alignment of your teeth after your braces are removed. Permanent retainers may also be called fixed or bonded retainers because they are bonded to the backside of your teeth. A fixed or permanent retainer may last decades, and it should only be removed by your orthodontist. A permanent retainer is essentially a wire that typically runs along the backside of the front 4-6 teeth on either the upper or lower arch. In some cases, they may be placed on both the upper and lower arch.

Permanent retainers eliminate the risk of losing or breaking a removable retainer. Permanent retainers are also invisible when you smile. Patients who opt for a permanent retainer may have fewer follow-up appointments. If you get a permanent retainer, you also won’t run the risk of your teeth drifting back into old positions, and won’t incur the cost of a new removable retainer should yours become damaged.  However, it can take some time to get used to flossing if you have a permanent retainer. 

Flossing With a Permanent Retainer: 3 Techniques 

Because the permanent wire will span a couple to several teeth, you will not be able to floss normally with dental floss. The wire will prevent the dental floss from reaching the gum line. One of the best ways to overcome this is to invest in a water flosser. Water flossers are available at most pharmacies and big box stores such as Target or Walmart. You also order one online. 

Water flossers (commonly known as Water Piks) use pulsating water streams to remove plaque, food debris, and buildup between the teeth and along the gum line.  Studies have shown that water flossers are as effective as dental floss in reducing plaque.

Another method of flossing while you have a permanent retainer will involve using a floss threader. A floss threader is a simple flexible tool that you will insert underneath the wire of the permanent retainer. It will pull the dental floss through the teeth so that you can floss beneath the wire. 

Instead of using a floss threader, you can also purchase Super Floss, which is dental floss that works like a floss threader but with fewer steps. Super floss is dental floss that has a stiff end that can be pushed between the teeth underneath the fixed retainer, just like a floss threader.

All options will remove plaque. However, most people find a water flosser to be the easiest and fastest method for flossing with a permanent retainer.  Although a water flosser will be a more significant upfront investment, it can last for many years without needing to be replaced. 

Book an Orthodontic Evaluation in Newington, CT

If you’re ready to correct imperfections in your smile or an issue with your bite, contact Greater Hartford Orthodontics today. Our orthodontic specialists offer a variety of treatments including traditional braces, Invisalign, self-ligating braces, clear braces, and behind-the-teeth (lingual) braces. Removable and permanent retainers are available. Send us a message or call 860-667-8277